1(Lights out, all except Blue Floats. 11.40 P.M., same night. Same Scene. Room in perfect order. Sound of key in lock. Enter BARRACLOUGH with letter. Holds door, then turns up lights. Enter BEDFORD and MERTON. They both take off their hats. BEDFORD nods to MERTON. MERTON goes up below double doors.)
BEDFORD (puts hat on table): Many thanks; you needn’t wait.
BARRACLOUGH: Yes, sir; I beg pardon, sir.
Mr. Raffles has not returned. (Crosses to table, places note conspicuously, rests note against match stand.)
BEDFORD: He’s dining at his club.
BARRACLOUGH: It was a narrow escape, sir.
BEDFORD: I should say so.
BARRACLOUGH: And the burglar, sir?
BEDFORD: His escape wasn’t so narrow.
BARRACLOUGH: Is he caught, sir?
BEDFORD: I guess we’ll wait for Mr. Raffles.
BARRACLOUGH: Very well, sir.
BEDFORD (alert goes to door, peers into passage, then shuts and puts his back to door.): That’s what I meant -that clock. It’s fast to the wall. He keeps it locked. You bet there’s a safe inside.
(MERTON tries clock door. Produces kit from pocket, including jemmy and skeleton keys, puts them on sofa, selects jemmy.)
How long’ll it take you?
MERTON: That? Three seconds. (Trying door with jemmy.)
BEDFORD: Say, without smashing?
MERTON: That’s different.
(Knock heard at door.)
BEDFORD: Stop! Some one’s coming.
(MERTON quickly hides tools in pockets. Knock again at door.)
Not Raffles, not Manders; they wouldn’t knock. (To MERTON.) Put those things away. (Goes. Opens door.)
(Enter MRS. VIDAL, evening dress, carriage wrap, etc. MERTON, with hat in hand, is looking out of window.)
Mrs. Vidal! Can’t say how delighted I am to see you.
MRS. VIDAL (just inside door): Mr. Bedford – this is a surprise – and – (sees Assistant.)
BEDFORD: Oh, that’s my man. Merton, you can go.
(Nods to MERTON, who exits.)
MRS. VIDAL: So yours is a professional visit, Mr. Bedford?
BEDFORD: Perhaps – and yours – friendly?
MRS. VIDAL: Perhaps; I’ll tell you when I’ve seen Mr. Raffles.
BEDFORD: Then it’s too bad Raffles is not at home.
MRS. VIDAL: It’s such a dreadful night, he may be lost in the fog like the other man who slipped through your fingers. (Comes from window, looks at picture over sofa.)
BEDFORD: The Raffles taste is bully. (indicating picture.)
MRS. VIDAL: In some things. (Looking at Watts’ “Hope”)2
BEDFORD: Is there none for Mr. Raffles?
MRS. VIDAL: What!
BEDFORD: Mrs. Vidal, you came here to-night to tell Mr. Raffles that unless he made his peace with you, you’d denounce him.
MRS. VIDAL: Mr. Bedford!
BEDFORD: He won’t make peace – at your price.
MRS. VIDAL: Who has been telling you things?
BEDFORD: Your eyes, Mrs. Vidal and his. I saw more than you supposed over-night, and this morning down at Milchester, and you bet I haven’t thrown away a long evening in town. One thing I’m dead sure of- that in affairs of the heart, Mr. Raffles is an honourable man.
MRS. VIDAL (laughs): Honour among thieves!
BEDFORD: So you’ve sized him up like that.
MRS. VIDAL: And you -admire the man.
BEDFORD: As much as you do, Mrs. Vidal.
MRS. VIDAL: Well, he’s the Amateur Cracksman.
BEDFORD: I guess that’s not proved.
MRS. VIDAL: It can be.
MRS. VIDAL (laughs.): A man of your ability, Mr. Bedford should be able to find his own evidence.
BEDFORD: Mrs. Vidal, I have found it.
MRS. VIDAL: Ah! you have discovered the necklace?
BEDFORD: Not yet, but I’ve discovered the woman in the “Great Pearl” case.
MRS. VIDAL (pause): You know- you heard -last night. I hope you don’t misunderstand my motives, Mr. Bedford.
BEDFORD: I guess not. You got to get even with the man who slighted you.
MRS. VIDAL: And I mean to -upon one condition.
BEDFORD: What is that condition?
MRS. VIDAL: I shall merely be asked to identify him.
MRS. VIDAL: Nothing further.
BEDFORD: Nothing further if it rests with me.
MRS. VIDAL: And I must see him before -the arrest.
BEDFORD: You’ll warn him?
MRS. VIDAL: I can’t think that would make much difference- to a man of your resources, Mr. Bedford.
BEDFORD: Thank you.
MRS. VIDAL: I shall wait- in the thieves’ kitchen.3 (Turns away from him.)
BEDFORD: I shall watch – for your departure. Good night, Mrs. Vidal.
MRS. VIDAL: Good night.
(He shows by look his opinion of a despicable woman. MRS. VIDAL sits in chair until she hears the outer door slam on BEDFORD’S exit. Rises, looking around room, sees letter on table. Picks up note brought by PORTER.)
Gwendoline’ s handwriting! (She hesitates, opens the note, reads.) “Have waited for you to come. Lord Amersteth hopes with me that this may find you. If you do not come to us by eleven, we are coming to warn you against the machinations of- a- wicked woman.”
(Tears up letter furiously, throws bits in waste paper basket. Scatters the pile of letters on writing-table, finds her own – unopened.)
Mine- unopened! (Tears up second letter, throws it in waste paper basket, returns triumphant to writing-table, looking at other letters.)
(Enter RAFFLES quietly, jacket and black tie, opera hat, overcoat, etc. Goes right over to table, watching her. Note: RAFFLES starts to enter door after MRS. VIDAL has torn up her first letter.)
RAFFLES: Can I be of any assistance to you?
MRS. VIDAL (turns, sees RAFFLES): Oh! How you startled me. You came like –
RAFFLES: A thief in the night! And you?
MRS. VIDAL: Came to warn you.
RAFFLES: Very good of you – but my whole life is a warning – perpetually before me.
MRS. VIDAL: It cannot save you now.
RAFFLES: It always has. How did you get in?
MRS. VIDAL: I bribed your porter.
RAFFLES: The incorruptible Barraclough- To every man his price.
MRS. VIDAL: You are going out of town?
RAFFLES: Who told you that?
MRS. VIDAL: Lord Crowley.
RAFFLES: Of course.
MRS. VIDAL: Is it true?
RAFFLES: I am going.
MRS. VIDAL: Alone?
MRS. VIDAL: Without regret, I suppose.
RAFFLES: With the regret of a man who leaves his last chance in life behind him.
MRS. VIDAL: In which I have no part? Arthur! (She puts her hand over his hand.)
RAFFLES (draws his hand away- shrugs): Mrs. Vidal!
MRS. VIDAL: I think we are quits. I wouldn’t be the woman in your heart to-night for all there is in England.
RAFFLES: You make me curious.
MRS. VIDAL: You would like to know why?
MRS. VIDAL: Because you have had your last chance. Because you will not leave England – and when you leave these rooms again it will be under arrest.
RAFFLES: With gyves upon my wrist! And you want to be in at the death?
MRS. VIDAL: Yes- but I fear I must deny myself that pleasure. However, I shall read of it in morning with my early cup of tea. (Goes for cloak on sofa, takes it up.)
RAFFLES (coming to help her): Allow me. (He takes cloak – helping her with it.) So sorry to spoil the first freshness of your morning Mrs. Vidal. I shall leave London – England – when I please, and go where I please.
MRS. VIDAL: You forget Curtis Bedford.
RAFFLES: I shall never do that. He’s given me quite the most sporting day I ever had in my life.
MRS. VIDAL: He was here just before you came.
RAFFLES: Here again? Already? (Looks at clock – laughs.)
MRS. VIDAL: We have had a very charming interview.
RAFFLES: I understand. You didn’t promise him your assistance?
MRS. VIDAL: I did- but it is not yet too late to break that promise.
RAFFLES: Oh! On what condition?
MRS. VIDAL (going close to him): That you do not leave England alone.
RAFFLES (goes to door, opens door, turns round): Did you keep your cab, or shall I call you one?
MRS. VIDAL: So that’s your answer?
RAFFLES: I’ve got all my packing to do. (Clock chimes third quarter.)
I wish that clock didn’t strike the quarters.
MRS. VIDAL (suspiciously): Why?
RAFFLES: The quarter of an hour has such a bad name.4
MRS. VIDAL: This one is over! But there are worse to come – millions of them – when you’d give the heart out of your body to live this one over again. (Pause.)
(She exits. He shrugs his shoulders, follows her, slams outer door.)
(RAFFLES returns, takes out pouch, puts it conspicuously on table. RAFFLES finds revolver in hip pocket, puts it on table, and goes to cupboard, gets cartridges, loads revolver. Business of sitting on sofa in various positions to shoot himself there and then. Thinks better of it, rises, puts revolver in pocket again, puts cartridges away in cupboard again, goes to double doors- key bus. Removes key of folding doors in lock from outside to inside. Bell – Pause – Bell again – BUNNY whistles outside. RAFFLES goes to admit BUNNY. Slam of outer door. BUNNY enters with opera hat and coat over arm, followed by RAFFLES.)
BUNNY: Mrs. Vidal!
RAFFLES: Whose Christian name is- Nemesis.
BUNNY: What does she know?
RAFFLES: She knows me, Bunny, and she has seen Bedford.
BUNNY: Damn Bedford! We’ll beat him yet. I have the tickets. (Takes pocket book from pocket, puts it on table.) She sails in the morning, but they’ll let us go aboard to-night.
BUNNY: Yes, you said one- I said two.
BUNNY: I’m going with you, A.J. I, too, must see the “Never, Never Land” – I, too, must start afresh.
RAFFLES: It’s too late – for me.
BUNNY (raises eyebrows): It’s not too late for you to practise what you preach: “Money lost, little lost – Honour lost, much lost.”
RAFFLES: More than I dreamt of until to-day!
BUNNY: But not all. “Pluck lost, all lost.” And you’ll never lose that.
RAFFLES: Bunny, you’ve fagged for me for the last time.
BUNNY: You think there is no escape?
RAFFLES (laughs): I’ll never be taken- alive.
(Pauses while lighting Sullivan, to glance sharply towards door. Hears something, draws BUNNY’S attention to it. Nods to BUNNY to go and see. BUNNY takes up pocket book from table, puts it in his pocket. BUNNY crosses on tip-toe and opens door. Enter BEDFORD; he takes off his hat.)
BEDFORD: Thank you, Mr. Manders- I was just about to knock.
RAFFLES: Barraclough again. Stout fellow! Sorry I was out when you were here before.
(BUNNY shuts door)
BEDFORD (with glance at clock): You saw Mrs. Vidal?
RAFFLES: Yes. Have you seen her since?
RAFFLES: Just now?
BEDFORD: This minute.
RAFFLES (looks at BUNNY to show the game is up. BUNNY comes to RAFFLES): So the fat’s in the fire, is it? And now what?
BEDFORD: And now, Mr. Raffles, I shall have to take a very disagreeable step.
RAFFLES: Where’s your warrant?
BEDFORD: You don’t suppose I’d forgotten that. Mr. Roberts of Scotland Yard has got it down below. He is waiting with a police officer to take you when I call him up.
BUNNY: And this is the man who doesn’t work with Scotland Yard!
RAFFLES: Play fair, Bedford -let’s decide our bet first. (Points to clock.) Only ten minutes to go, and you haven’t found the necklace.
(Knock at inner door. Enter PORTER, he holds door.)
PORTER: This way, your lordship.
(Enter GWENDOLINE, then LORD AMERSTETH – with opera hat in hand. GWENDOLINE crosses quickly to RAFFLES. PORTER exits, closes both doors.)
RAFFLES: Gwen! (In an undertone.) Miss Conran!
LORD AMERSTETH: Mr. Bedford! This is a-
BEDFORD: Surprise? Same here. I guess you heard Mr. Raffles- (look between RAFFLES and BEDFORD) was about to leave London, and came to say good-bye.
GWENDOLINE: No! Hearing of your absurd suspicions, we came to tell Mr. Raffles what we thought about it.
RAFFLES: You should not have come! (Below double doors – they whisper.)
BEDFORD: May I ask, Lord Amersteth, what you think about it?
LORD AMERSTETH: Certainly you may ask, and I will tell you frankly. I consider your whole treatment of this unhappy case as little less than a blot upon your career. And though it pains me to speak so bluntly, sir, I – I – I’m downright glad of the opportunity!
BEDFORD (laughingly): I don’t grudge you the relief to your feelings, Lord Amersteth, but unfortunately it’s too late to relieve the situation.
GWENDOLINE: Too late?
BEDFORD (strongly): It will evidently surprise you to hear that Mr. Arthur J. Raffles-
RAFFLES (stopping him): Please, Bedford! Let it come from me. And Miss Conran will find this chair more comfortable than standing.
(Conducts her to chair by table. GWENDOLINE sits.)
LORD AMERSTETH: You began by suspecting my own son! You’ve lost your cunning, Mr. Bedford!
(Puts opera hat on table.)
BEDFORD: Have I? Ask Mr. Raffles.
GWENDOLINE (to RAFFLES): What does he mean?
RAFFLES: Lord Amersteth – Bedford – it is probably the last favour I shall ask of either of you. In the utter goodness of her heart Miss Conran has taken far too kind an interest in my wretched affairs. Do let me tell her the truth myself, while you enlighten Lord Amersteth.
LORD AMERSTETH: You wish to be alone together? (Shows signs of high approval.) Of course- of course. Nothing more natural.
GWENDOLINE (distressed): Dear Uncle ….
BEDFORD (doubtfully): That’s all very well- but one moment. (Decides- goes to door and opens it.)
(MERTON is discovered outside the door waiting. MERTON enters and remains just inside door until BEDFORD speaks.)
(Still watching the scene in the room, has back to MERTON.)
Don’t let any one pass that door!
(MERTON exits, closes door,remains outside.)
RAFFLES: Take them into the other room, Bunny.
BEDFORD: On parole?
RAFFLES: On parole.
BEDFORD: Come right in, Lord Amersteth.
(Exeunt BEDFORD, followed by LORD AMERSTETH and BUNNY. Closes double doors.)
GWENDOLINE: Did you get my note?
RAFFLES: No. (Going a step towards writing-table.) Ah!- I found her meddling with my letters.
GWENDOLINE: Mrs. Vidal?
RAFFLES: Of course.
GWENDOLINE: Then she must have stolen it! Such hints, such threats!
RAFFLES: She has kept the threats.
GWENDOLINE: But the hints- the horrid mean mysterious insinuations!
RAFFLES: What if they were true?
GWENDOLINE: Don’t! I’ve gone through enough. It isn’t kind of you.
RAFFLES: I see. If you had thought there was any truth in them, you wouldn’t have come here to-night.
GWENDOLINE: Yes! I would have come to warn you.
RAFFLES: You wouldn’t have come to warn a thief?
GWENDOLINE: Oh, don’t! (Distressed.)
RAFFLES: Not- not the man there’s been all this fuss about – surely?
GWENDOLINE: Yes – still I would have come.
RAFFLES (pause): I am the man. I’m that wretched fool -that criminal lunatic – who had the face to call himself- I can’t say it to you! It was a silly paradox, and a lie as well. I was no more an amateur than the clumsy ruffian we caught last night. I lived by it for years. I gloried in it for years. But I swear to you, Miss Conran, I’ve done neither since I met you.
(GWENDOLINE falls on her knees off chair, buries her head in her hands sobbing. RAFFLES puts his hands over his ears to shut out sound of her suffering.)
(As GWENDOLINE’S sobs subside.) And now the innings is over!
(Rises, glances at folding doors.) Oh, I couldn’t bear that. It would break my heart – to think of you- there. (Sinks on sofa, buries her head in her hands over low end of sofa.)
RAFFLES: You mustn’t think of me anymore. Oh, it’s easy to tell you what I’ve been; but it’s hard to have to tell you what I’ve done- to you.
GWENDOLINE: To me?
RAFFLES: I poisoned your mind against my own friend.
GWENDOLINE: Harry? Why! you pleaded for him.
RAFFLES: I could afford to do that, when you suspected him of what I’d done.
GWENDOLINE: You didn’t take the necklace!
RAFFLES: I -did.
GWENDOLINE: That dreadful man, Crawshay- he wasn’t your confederate?
RAFFLES: No-he got the jewels- I took them from him -and kept- them.
RAFFLES: Oh! (Advancing, impulsively, kneels on R. knee to her.) I wonder- I wonder if you would forgive me.
GWENDOLINE (holding out both hands): Yes!
RAFFLES (takes them): Then they can do their worst.
GWENDOLINE: They shan’t- you must escape. (Rises.)
RAFFLES: No, no; but nothing matters after what you’ve said.
GWENDOLINE: Oh, you must!
RAFFLES: “Stone walls do not a prison make, Nor iron bars a cage.”5 Thank God, I know the thing by heart. I’ll say it every night- and think of you. (Kissing her hands.)
GWENDOLINE: Think of me now- escape- escape!
RAFFLES: No! No! I gave my word.
GWENDOLINE: The window – our carriage- for my sake! (His lips move, he hesitates, bus., making up his mind, throws up his hands, stamps foot. He goes quickly up to folding doors and throws them open.)
RAFFLES: Come on in. We’re losing time.
LORD AMERSTETH: You have told her?
(GWENDOLINE has gone to LORD AMERSTETH and buries her head on LORD AMERSTETH’S chest. He enfolds her in his arms.)
LORD AMERSTETH: Come, dear- home.
BEDFORD: That’s best, Miss Conran.
GWENDOLINE (in LORD AMERSTETH’S arms.): I will when I … have been forgiven.
(Turns to BUNNY, he to her; he puts out his hand, she takes it in hers. Clock chimes and strikes 12.)
RAFFLES: The hour. Aha! I fancy that decides our bet, Bedford.
BEDFORD (Consulting own watch): It does … for charity.
RAFFLES (takes up pouch): Lord Amersteth, as you know, I had the face to wager my friend Bedford £150 that he wouldn’t find the missing diamonds before midnight. He hasn’t.
(He takes necklace from pouch and gives it to LORD AMERSTETH.)
LORD AMERSTETH: The necklace.
BEDFORD (in admiration): Well, that s bully!
(LORD AMERSTETH goes to GWENDOLINE, showing her necklace.)
BEDFORD: Permit me. (Takes cheque from pocket book, gives it to RAFFLES.) Ready written for a hundred and fifty pounds.
RAFFLES: Oh, thank you very much. Quite in order – payable to bearer.
(As RAFFLES crosses to writing-table with cheque, BEDFORD goes to door and beckons in MERTON, who is standing outside. As MERTON enters GWENDOLINE gives a little cry of apprehension.)
RAFFLES (sits down at writing-table, endorses cheque, slips it into envelope, calls “Bunny.”): You might post it for me, Bunny.
BUNNY: My bank!
RAFFLES: My dear fellow. You’re not the only depositor.
BEDFORD: So far you are the winner.
(RAFFLES bows. BEDFORD opens window, beckons to MR. ROBERTS, policeman, below. Closes window.)
RAFFLES: Good-bye, Lord Amersteth. You understand now. I simply couldn’t resist them. But I wouldn’t have kept them to save my soul.
LORD AMERSTETH: Oh Raffles – Raffles. (Turns away.)
BEDFORD: So far I am a loser …. I’ve lost the wager … but I’ve got the cracksman!
RAFFLES (with a little laugh): Have you?
(Springs quickly through the centre doors closes and locks them from the inside. LORD AMERSTETH takes GWENDOLINE in his arms. Sobs from GWENDOLINE.)
BEDFORD: Stop him. (Runs up to BUNNY.)
(BUNNY has got in front of double doors. MERTON runs up to BUNNY. BUNNY spreads himself in front of door, squares up and knocks back MERTON.)
GWENDOLINE (hands clasped): God grant-
(MERTON picks himself up, clasps BUNNY round his waist. BUNNY clinging to handle.)
BEDFORD (struggling with BUNNY): You shall suffer for this!
BUNNY: I don’t care. He said you shouldn’t take him, and by God, you shan’t.
(BEDFORD and MERTON throw BUNNY round to low end of sofa. The INSPECTOR and POLICEMAN enter at door.)
BEDFORD: Now then- hold him down!
(They proceed to do so. BEDFORD rushes up to R. half of double doors. MERTON on L. half of doors with jemmy. Sound of pistol shot inside. GWENDOLINE cries out and falls in chair. Cry from BUNNY also. Then for a second all are silent.)
LORD AMERSTETH: It’s all over.
BEDFORD (strongly): Break down the doors!
(MERTON breaks open the door. BEDFORD pulls open R. half, MERTON L. half. No one to be seen. BEDFORD, then MERTON enter the inner room, POLICEMAN follows; INSPECTOR follows POLICEMAN, as he enters inner room closes L. half of doors. All go off R. when in inner room. RAFFLES, pistol in hand, enters through clock door. With finger to lips he motions BUNNY up to double doors. GWENDOLINE rises with cry of joy, also BUNNY, who rushes up to double doors holding them. RAFFLES puts pistol in pocket and gets coat and hat from head of sofa.)
GWENDOLINE: You’ll give it all up?
RAFFLES: I swear it!
BUNNY (at double doors): Go – go.
GWENDOLINE (giving him rose from her dress): Keep that.
RAFFLES: Till I die.
(RAFFLES exits, shutting door behind him, heard to lock it.)
(BEDFORD, struggling with door from inside, opens R. half of doors, forcing BUNNY to L. of door, reappearing from inner room.)
BEDFORD: Where is he – where?
(As GWENDOLINE goes to head of writing-table and watches out of window as BEDFORD goes to door. LORD AMERSTETH enters from inner room and goes to GWENDOLINE, also looking out of window. BEDFORD discovers clock door, confronts MERTON looking through it from other side; springs over to door. and finds it locked. Looking at door, scratches his head.)
Locked – escaped! – a fog outside! (Strokes moustache. Exasperation ends in smile.) Well, by gosh, I’m glad. He’s bully!